The German composer Carl Arnold (1794–1873) brought the spirit of Beethoven with him when he established himself in Oslo, building the foundations of professional music life in Norway. Fortepianist Torleif Torgersen has previously released a critically acclaimed album with Arnold’s solo piano music. Now he presents a recording with the grand piano concerto and sextet by the composer, together with the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Rinaldo Alessandrini.
At the end of the Napoleonic wars in 1815, the young virtuoso Carl Arnold could tour the concert venues of the highest nobility, while composing new works along the way – dedicated to countesses and other female members of the aristocracy who had invited him to play. The piano concerto was premiered in Warzaw August 1819, dedicated “to her highness the princess Aleksandra Zajączek”. The piano sextet was written in 1825, at a time when Arnold was living in Berlin. Stylistically the music is clearly founded in the Beethoven tradition, and the grand virtuosic piano part makes the work stand out as almost a concerto in itself.
Carl Arnold was born in Neunkirchen in Germany, and became central in the construction of the professional music life in Kristiania (Oslo) from day one after he arrived in the city as a travelling virtuoso in 1848. He remains in the Norwegian capital as conductor of the Philharmonic Society, and organist in Trefoldighetskirken. He founded the first organist- and composer academy in Kristiania, and among his students are Halfdan Kjerulf, Otto Winter-Hjelm and Johan Svendsen.
Torgersen is Professor at the Grieg Academy in Bergen. His focus is performance practice on the fortepiano, with Malcolm Bilson and Bart van Oort among others. When releasing the world premiere of Arnolds piano works in 2011, also recorded on the 1830 Hafner used for this album, it was received by Fanfare as “A fascinating and stimulating release, which I highly recommend to anyone with an interest in wrongly neglected composers.”. The Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra dates back to 1765 and is one of the oldest orchestras in the world. Edvard Grieg had a close relationship with the orchestra and was its artistic director during the years 1880-82.